Salute to graduates

GRADUATES2013

kellyMacy Kelly

Red Wing High School

Macy Kelly attends St. Joseph in Red Wing. Her parents are Tim and Sue Kelly. She plans to attend the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
High school isn’t just about the education; it is about finding out who you really want to be and what path you want to take when you leave.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am proud of the way I learned how to balance my homework, sports, extra curricular activities, church activities, friends and family.

What is the most meaningful way you have helped another student or students in your school?
Being a basketball player, I have had the opportunity to be a role model for a lot of young girls and have learned to treat the younger classmen as my equals. When you are in eighth and ninth grade, being treated as a teammate instead of an underclassman will open your eyes for the future and teach you how to be more of a team instead of an individual.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
I went on a mission trip to Booneville, Ark., the summer before my junior year of high school, and I believe that to be the turning point in my faith. It was such an eye-opening experience and I have felt closer to God ever since.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
“Of Mice and Men,” because it was one of the most powerful books I have ever read. Life is full of tough decisions and the right path isn’t always easy.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
My second-grade teacher, Sister Bernelle Tube, prepared me for my first Communion and has always kept in touch with me even when she moved away. She always sends me notes of encouragement and reminds me that she is praying for me.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
Keep  opportunities available for young adults to participate in. The more involved they get at a young age, the more they will want to continue with the Church in the future.

What is your favorite prayer?
Act of Contrition.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
Always find the positives in any situation because they are much more beneficial than the negatives.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
Graduate from college, keep a strong relationship with my family, and never forget that God is always there for me.


lissonHannah Lisson

Annandale High School

Hannah Lisson attends St. Luke in Clearwater. Her parents are Greg and JoAnn Lisson. She plans to attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
That hard work does pay off.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am proud of never losing myself and staying who I want to be.

What is the most meaningful way you have helped another student or students in your school?
I would say by always being willing to be there for anyone, whether they need a friend or help in a class.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
My most significant faith experience would either have been attending Steubenville North or a TEC retreat.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
“The Kite Runner” by Khalid Hosseini. It really opened my eyes to how other cultures in our world are.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
One of my sister’s friends, Sister Laura Popp, is a spiritual role model for me. In January of this year, she entered the Missionaries of Charities. She is the type of person who has an aura around her that just draws you in.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
I feel like if the Catholic Church taught earlier how beautiful the Mass is it would keep young adults engaged. I would say throughout the past year I have begun to really learn what is happening, and how, during the Mass and it makes me that much more engaged.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be?
Paul McCartney because I love the music he wrote for The Beatles.

What is your favorite prayer?
I wouldn’t say it is a prayer but in times of trouble I prefer to read Psalm 91.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself to never hide who you are for fear of someone else’s judgment.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
•  To always be a light of Christ’s love to everyone I know.
•  To discover my calling: married life or holy life.
•  To maintain happiness in everything I do.


schwartzKyle Schwartz

Hill-Murray School, Maplewood

Kyle Schwartz attends St. Pius X in White Bear Lake. His parents are Jeffrey and Joanne Schwartz. He plans to attend Loyola University in Chicago, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in theater.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
The only way for me to be satisfied with my life is to trust and respect myself.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I flew to Chicago to audition for a theater scholarship at my college of choice, Loyola University, and I was one of the few recipients.

What is the most meaningful way you have helped another student or students in your school?
I am a part of a group at Hill-Murray known as “Peer Listening.” It is an excellent program that trains students in the art and science of listening and counseling as a healing form of communication.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
“Eat to Live,” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. It caused me to think critically about nutrition and by extension gave me a profound respect for my body.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
One of my religion teachers, Mr. Ken Schaan. He is a superb mentor, and the most honest, open-minded Catholic man that I know. He is bold and wise; I admire him immensely.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
Preach Christ’s message and the potency of his love, and avoid flashy attempts to attract the new generation. Jesus Christ is infinitely more attractive than any Christian rock concert or Twitter feed.

What is your favorite prayer?
I have been singing since I was young, and I pray mostly through song. Gregorio Allegri’s “Miserere” is a beautiful piece that has deeply imbedded itself into my spirit. I pray with it often.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
I hope to reach a level of financial security that allows me to live simply, live healthfully, and grow at least 75 percent of what I eat.


gagePatrick Gage

Providence Academy, Plymouth

Patrick Gage attends St. Bartholomew in Wayzata. His parents are Geoff and Kelly Gage. He plans to attend Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
Time management, far and away, is the greatest lesson I learned in high school. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but once you’ve learned it, it’ll stick with you forever.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I’m proud of the way I balanced work and fun. I kept my priorities straight and focused on school first, but?I also spent a lot of time with friends and family.

What is the most meaningful way you have helped another student or students in your school?
As a member of student council, I’ve spent several years representing my peers and ensuring their voices are heard.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
Reading C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” and coming into contact with “rational” belief for the first time drastically strengthened my faith and showed me that Christ and his word were not only beautiful but also factual.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli’s “Handbook of Catholic Apologetics” proved to me that Catholicism was rationally defensible and gave me the information I need to defend my faith.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
Both my parents have been great role models for my Catholic faith. While encouraging me to have a free mind and think for myself, they instilled in me fervor for Catholicism and a desire to follow Christ’s Church to the ends of the world.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
Introducing young people to apologists like Kreeft and Tacelli is the best way to keep them engaged in the life of the Church. In a modern world that puts great emphasis on proof, it’s easy for young people to assume that Christianity is mere faith and thus fall away. Introducing these young people to the rational side of Christ’s Church will keep them interested and, most importantly, believing.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be?
I would have a conversation with St. Jerome, an early doctor of the Church. Having studied Latin for many years and translated parts of the Vulgate, I would enjoy discussing his translation of the Bible from Hebrew and Latin and learning more about his life.

What is your favorite prayer?
My favorite prayer is the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
First, I hope to serve my country in public service, as a representative, senator, or if God so chooses, a president. Second, I hope to raise a wonderful, faithful family. Third, I hope to be an active philanthropist.


Gabrielle WaylandGabby Wayland

Bethlehem Academy, Faribault

Gabby Wayland attends Divine Mercy in Faribault. Her parents are Tim and Trena Wayland. She plans to attend the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
The greatest lesson I learned in high school is to never limit yourself as to what you are capable of accomplishing, because with hard work and dedication you can achieve more than you ever hoped.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am proud of being named all-conference in soccer my junior and senior years because it was awesome to see my hard work pay off.

What is the most meaningful way you have helped another student or students in your school?
Through tutoring as a part of National Honor Society, it is really rewarding to see the students understand something or get a good grade on a test after working with them. Tutoring was one of the things that helped me decide I want to be a teacher.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
The most significant faith experience for me during high school occurred on the Search Retreat we put on at our church for high school students. Adoration was so powerful and moving on the retreat, and God really brought peace and joy to my heart.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
I just recently finished the book “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini, about the lives of two women in Afghanistan. It changed the way I viewed happiness and the meaning of sacrifice and perseverance.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
My sister Jillian is a role model for my Catholic faith because she has always shared the joy and love of Christ with everyone she meets. She has completely given her life over to the Lord and trusted him to be her guide.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
I believe the Catholic Church should have confidence in young adults that they can understand the truth and go deeper in their faith. Having deep discussions regarding the teachings of the Church makes the faith more rich and tangible.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be?
I would like to have a conversation with Blessed Mother Teresa so I could ask her how she was able to endure spiritual darkness internally while being a magnificent spiritual light to the whole world.

What is your favorite prayer?
St. Michael the Archangel prayer.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself to spend less time worrying and more time trusting God.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
If I am called, I hope to be a good mother, wife, and teacher someday.


WollersheimPaul Wollersheim

Rosemount High School

Paul Wollersheim attends St. Joseph in Rosemount. His parents are Mary Beth and John Wollersheim. He plans to attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
You never know how someone will affect your life. The people you don’t notice one day will change your life the next.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
Being named a National Merit Scholar.

What is the most meaningful way you have helped another student or students in your school?  
I helped organize a peer tutoring network that will begin its work in earnest next year.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had in high school.
Being a catechist for eighth-graders for the last two years has been a joy. Not only has it kept my mind on faith, but I’ve learned so much from the thoughts and prayers of the kids I’ve worked with.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
“The Catcher in the Rye” showed me that life continues through all our hardships. Wasting time feeling sorry for your circumstances will bring no benefit to your life.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
My mother is dedicated to prayer. Her dependence on the Lord has been a shining example for me and my faith.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
The more the Church emphasizes its mission of social justice and its pursuit of global solidarity, the more it will employ the hands of those called to serve.

What is your favorite prayer?
The prayer of St. Francis. It is a blueprint to the true identity of Catholicism, calling upon the virtues of stewardship, serenity and humility.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
I hope to work in a foreign country, save a life and be a loving father.


gannonAlexis Gannon

Holy Family Catholic High School, Victoria

Alexis Gannon attends St. Hubert in Chanhassen. Her parents are Shelley and Rich Gannon. She plans to attend Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
The greatest lesson I learned in high school is to trust God’s plan for my life.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am proud to have been voted a captain of my high school soccer team.

What is the most meaningful way you have helped another student or students in your school?
The Holy Family Campus Ministry Program has provided me with an incredible opportunity to act as a servant leader to my fellow students. Through this program, I have helped lead our daily convocation, planned school Masses and celebrations, and have deepened my understanding of what it means to act as the face and hands of Jesus Christ.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
My most significant faith experience in high school was on a mission trip with my family. We traveled to Guatemala to serve the community and visit a child we sponsor. It was a life-changing trip, and I was touched by the strength of faith I encountered in the families we visited and the experience of service in a community unlike any I had previously known.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
I read “Left to Tell” by Immaculée Ilibagiza. This opened my eyes to the horrible events that have taken place and continue to occur around the world. Immaculée impressed me with her faith as she endured a multitude of hardships and by her incredible compassion and forgiveness.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
My parents are great role models for my faith. They encourage me to integrate faith into all aspects of my life, including friends, family, athletics and academics. They have provided incredible examples of love and faith and have taught me through word and example the importance of having strong Christian values.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
The Church can continue to stay relevant with young adults through social media and also by emphasizing the importance of living a life based in both faith and service.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be?
If I could have a conversation with a historical figure, I would like to speak with Pope John Paul II. He was a visionary leader of the Church who had the ability to reach out to those in need. He was a true servant who was courageous and took on the challenges of the Catholic Church around the world.

What is your favorite prayer?
I enjoy praying the serenity prayer because it reminds me to put my trust and confidence in God.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
I hope to pursue a career that I enjoy and that allows me to serve others, possibly in the medical field. I hope to continue to grow in my faith and share my faith with others. Finally, I hope to become a leader in my community.


MiottiJohn Miotti

Academy of Holy Angels, Richfield

John Miotti attends St. Peter in Mendota. His parents are Lisa and Tim Miotti. He plans to attend Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
One of the most valuable lessons I learned in high school is that the most difficult decision is usually the right decision.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I entered Holy Angels as a shy 14-year-old and, through the opportunities I was offered, I managed to grow into a leader with the companionship of many close friends.

What is the most meaningful way you have helped another student or students in your school?
As a student government leader, I’ve represented my class and worked in planning various events, community service projects and fundraising opportunities. This year I was a member of a senior group that advocated against cyber bullying. Through all of these activities I helped to create a positive school environment.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
Serving on two different mission trips has expanded my perspective on the significance of helping others. I have learned the importance of putting my faith into action.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?  
“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak changed my way of thinking by portraying the extremes of the human condition and showing that despite the most deplorable of situations, there are always good people trying to do the right thing.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
My dad is a spiritual role model for my Catholic faith because of his devoutness and ability to give without any want of reciprocation. He consistently embodies Christian values and understands the importance of humility.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
One of the best ways the Church can keep young people engaged is best stated through one of the values of my high school: “Communicate you matter.”

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be?
I would want to have a conversation with Oskar Schindler. Despite being a member of the Nazi party, Oskar used his wealth to protect his workers and is credited with saving the lives of over 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust.

What is your favorite prayer?
“As you go on your way, may Christ go with you. May he go before you to show you the way; may he go behind you to encourage you; beside you to befriend you; above you to watch over; within you to give you peace.”

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
I hope to graduate from medical school and become a physician, write and publish a book and do mission work in a foreign country.


schererJackie Scherer

Benilde-St. Margaret’s School, St. Louis Park

Jackie Scherer attends Holy Name of Jesus in Medina and St. Vincent de Paul in Brooklyn Park. Her parents are Mark and Heather Scherer. She plans to attend Boston College.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
Believe in yourself –– always. You can accomplish so much more when you focus on what you need to accomplish, not what others want you to accomplish.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I’m proud of taking so many risks and succeeding. Whether I tried new activities or tackled a rigorous course schedule, knowing I pushed myself these past four years is my proudest achievement.

What is the most meaningful way you have helped another student or students in your school?
I’ve been a tutor at my school for two years and continue to meet with some of the students in the summer. I like being able to help others with their studies.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
This spring break, I went on a trip to Rome with other BSM students and two of our religion teachers. Aside from visiting all the major churches in Rome and witnessing Holy Saturday Mass with Pope Francis, we went up the Holy Stairs. That experience –– being surrounded by friends while praying on the stairs on which Christ was condemned –– helped me to deepen and appreciate my faith.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
“Bias” by Bernard Goldberg gave me a stronger perspective that the world we live in isn’t what we perceive.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
My mom is definitely a role model; she converted to Catholicism before she and my dad got married. She is constantly setting a good example of what it means to be Catholic, both in values and actions.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
Personally, I appreciate it when I’m consulted about how to cooperate with other generations. The best way to engage young adults is to talk to them and get their perspective.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be?
I would have a conversation with Herb Brooks because of his involvement with the 1980 Olympic Hockey team. Being a hockey fan, I would want to ask him about his feelings during the game as well as the importance of determination and taking risks.

What is your favorite prayer?
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
Live overseas, raise a family, and learn as much as I can with the time I’ve been given.


NewburgMitchell Newburg

St. Thomas Academy, Mendota Heights

Mitchell Newburg attends All Saints in Lakeville. His parents are Kent and Stephanie Newburg. He plans to attend Grove City College in Grove City, Pa.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
The greatest lesson I have learned in high school is the importance of hard work to achieve your goals.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am most proud of how I have developed as a person at St. Thomas. I feel that I have grown into a man that people are willing to trust with many responsibilities.

What is the most meaningful way you have helped another student or students in your school?
When I first came to St. Thomas, I was nervous transferring into a new school in which I knew no one. Therefore, I think the most meaningful way I have helped other students has been through my school’s Freshmen Buddy program. I know from experience how important it is having someone to help you adjust to a new atmosphere, so I was glad I have been able to help a young student adjust.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
The most significant faith experience of mine in high school occurred during my confirmation. My cousin was my sponsor, and she had written me a letter in which she shared a story with me that struck me as miraculous because it described an experience of hers in which God may have saved her life.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
I recently read “Season of Life” by Jeffrey Marx. This book changed the way I think about how I act and who I strive to be because it was written to show what being a man truly is. I discovered manhood is about being built for others and strengthening relationships.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
My Aunt Sue is the person that influences my Catholic faith the most.  The fortitude of her faith after many trials is astounding to me and drives me to strengthen my own faith.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
I have found in my religion class this year that young adults enjoy discussing social issues. If the Church were to reach out to young adults and ask them what they think about various issues and why, I feel that could be a successful way to engage the Church’s younger members.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be?
I would speak with Isaac Newton because of how much he contributed to math and science.

What is your favorite prayer?
My favorite prayer is The Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas. Having been exposed to this prayer for the last six years, I have found it very effective in bringing me closer to God.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
I hope to become a good husband and father later in life, become an accomplished biomedical engineer, and continue to grow in my faith.


KIMLINGERMary Kimlinger

St. Agnes School, St. Paul

Mary Kimlinger attends St. Agnes in St. Paul. Her parents are Mark and Denise Kimlinger. She plans to attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
The greatest lesson I learned in high school is that a life of selfless giving will bring about the greatest joy.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am proud that I was able to take honors-level courses and consequently be named an AP scholar by College Board after my junior year.

What is the most meaningful way you have helped another student or students in your school?
I have been a member of the Pro-Life Club at St. Agnes during all four years of high school, and I love having the opportunity to help others become involved in the pro-life movement. By organizing events to raise awareness, educating my friends on human life issues or simply having conversations with others, I hope to encourage others to become active in the cause.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
This past fall, I was able to participate in the Vocations Club pilgrimage to Italy. Apart from my busy schedule and technology distractions, the pilgrimage allowed me to take extra time to pray and reflect on how God is calling me to live my life.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
“He Leadeth Me” by Father Walter Ciszek, S.J. Father Ciszek was captured by the Russian army and spent 23 years in Soviet prisons and the labor camps in Siberia during World War II. During these years of struggle, he learned to surrender himself completely to God’s will and see suffering as a way to grow closer to God.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
St. Gianna Beretta Molla; she was a pediatrician, a wife and a mother who gave up her life for her unborn child, refusing to have an abortion during her last and risky pregnancy. Her everyday holiness enabled her to make the greatest sacrifice of love.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
Many young Catholics are not fully educated in their faith, or the faith, through poor catechesis, has been misrepresented to them. There needs to be an emphasis on religious education, especially authentic Catholic social justice teaching and apologetics. High school students are particularly interested in social and political issues, such as the role of government, and they need answers that are relevant.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be?
Harriet Beecher Stowe. Her hauntingly brilliant novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” inspired abolitionists across the nation to persevere in the fight against slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War.

What is your favorite prayer?
The Prayer of St. Francis.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
I hope to graduate from the University of Minnesota, pursue a career in medicine and start a family of my own.


kunkelLeah Kunkel

Cretin-Derham Hall, St. Paul

Leah Kunkel attends St. Joseph in West St. Paul. Her parents are Pam and Rick Kunkel. She plans to attend St. Louis University in St. Louis, Mo.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
I learned the lesson of unconditional acceptance through People Finding People, CDH’s peer mentoring program. Although you may not agree with everyone, you must accept them for who they are.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
In my junior year, I was one of two students to receive the ExCel Award from CDH. It stands for Excellence in Community, Education, and Leadership.

What is the most meaningful way you have helped another student or students in your school?
I have been involved in People Finding People for the past two years. Each week, I meet one-on-one with several underclassmen to check up on them and be there for them if they are struggling with anything.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
Last summer, I went on a three-week pilgrimage to the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. Meeting people from all different faith backgrounds on this religious journey made a huge impact on my faith. Through our fellowship with the other pilgrims, and the time for self-reflection, I learned a lot about myself and other faiths as well.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
The book “Tuesdays With Morrie” has impacted me the most of all of the books that I read this year. In the last year alone, I have read it four different times, and I have learned different life lessons each time. Morrie’s story teaches the reader how to truly live a good life, and has influenced me to appreciate those around me.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
Pope Francis is my most current spiritual role model. I love what he is doing for the Church through leading by example and emphasizing the importance of service to others.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
I have found my faith experience to be the deepest through my service activities. For this reason, I think the Church could keep young adults engaged by offering a variety of service opportunities. Emphasizing the stewardship that each person should show to others and to the earth would certainly engage young people the most.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be?
I would want to talk with Theodore Roosevelt because of all of his wonderful work for the National Park Service. He was such a visionary in respect to conserving our wildlife, and I would love to hear more about his ideas.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
I hope to have a job that makes me happy every day, create a family full of love and acceptance, surround myself with fun friends who respect and care for each other, and travel the world.


KnudsonSonjaSonja Knudson

Convent of the Visitation, Mendota Heights

Sonja Knudson attends St. Thomas More in St. Paul. Her parents are Scott and Lisa Knudson. She plans to attend Tufts University in Medford, Mass.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
To “be who you are and be that well!” In other words, the only way to grow spiritually, intellectually and personally, is to follow your own passions and not conform to others.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
Being a part of the hockey team and being able to lead the team as a captain this year.

What is the most meaningful way you have helped another student or students in your school?
Over the last two years, I’ve helped in coordinating our middle school’s STEM day for girls. This experience has empowered my own interests in the science and math fields, in addition to hopefully empowering young girls in the same fields.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
At our senior class retreat in the fall, we were given time to go off and reflect on our own. I found a spot by a beautiful marsh and meditated over our school’s motto for this year, “Marvel at God’s Goodness.” Throughout the year, I have found that to wonder and be in awe at the work of the Lord is both difficult and rewarding.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
We just recently read “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin which incited several conversations in class about social boundaries and personal happiness. I had never read such a bold social critique before, so it really expanded my view on the power of literature.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
Both of my parents, because they have been great moral guides for me growing up.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
Expanding volunteer programs where kids and young adults can work within their community would keep them more engaged in the life of the Church and would offer an opportunity to meet kids who share the same faith.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be?
I would love to have a conversation with Dorothy Day so I could thank her for her work in launching the social justice movement of the Church.

What is your favorite prayer?
The Direction of Intention.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
Keep an open mind and forgive others.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
Go to medical school, have a job where I can travel and own a boat.


petersAustin Peters

Totino-Grace High School, Fridley

Austin Peters attends the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. His parents are Maureen and Phil Peters. He plans to attend the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
I am involved in many extra-curricular activities like math team, science team, and intramural basketball, to name a few, and have carried a rigorous class schedule all four years that challenges me daily. I had to learn to manage my time and prioritize extremely well to be successful.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am most proud of my grades. I challenged myself with an Honors/AP schedule and worked very hard in and out of the classroom each day to maintain a straight-A report card for four years.

What is the most meaningful way you have helped another student or students in your school?
I have been tutoring for four years — it is my way of giving back. I have been very blessed and love to help share my knowledge with other students who might not catch on as easily or struggle in the classroom. On a daily basis, I get asked to help and knowing I’ve made a difference can be the best part of my day.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
The most significant faith experience I have had in high school was during my senior all-day overnight retreat, where I really had a chance to look back on my life and reflect on what I have done well and what I have struggled with. These activities, prayers and moments of meditation really connected me to God and helped me improve how I live my daily life.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
“The Holy Longing” by Father Ronald Rolheiser really changed the way I think.  We read this book in my spirituality religion class, and it really shed some light on religious questions that puzzled me — why God doesn’t answer prayers sometimes, why we should forgive others, and how God truly is active in our everyday lives.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
My grandmother, who is also my confirmation Sponsor, is a very important spiritual role model in my life. Whenever I visit her, we attend Sunday Mass together and she and I usually have some conversations about God and Jesus and their roles in our lives. She also is very involved in her parish, helping out with community service, being an extraordinary minister of holy Communion and attending daily Mass.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be?
I would want to talk to Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. I would ask him questions like what caused him to create it in the first place, why he believed in it, and how he plans to live out the rest of his life.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
Land a job with a pharmaceuticals company using my chemical engineering degree to make a difference in the lives of others, have a family, and live a balanced life spiritually, professionally and socially.


scottLuke Scott

DeLaSalle High School, Minneapolis

Luke Scott attends St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony. His parents are Kelly and Mary Scott. He plans to attend the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
The greatest lesson I learned in high school is that perseverance is the best way to reach my goals.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
My greatest achievement in high school is winning two basketball state championships.

What is the most meaningful way you have helped another student or students in your school?
I try to help others through everyday interaction. If one is feeling down, I try to brighten their day with a smile and positive attitude. We are called to serve others to the best of our ability, and DeLaSalle has taught me to do that.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
My faith transformed in the adoration chapel at St. Charles. I learned to really appreciate Jesus Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. His presence has given me peace over the years that has helped me persevere through many challenges during high school.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
My mom is my spiritual role model because she is always there for me no matter what trials I am going through. I see her praying every day. She has truly helped shape my faith to what it is today through her beautiful example.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
We could have groups that talk about the enjoyment of being a Catholic while doing active things like sports. This is actually happening right now as my dad has combined spirituality and athletics with a non-profit organization called Spirit and Sport.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would like to have a conversation with Blessed John Paul II because he seemed to be the holiest man that I have seen in person.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
Trials are only there to make you stronger. Trust in God fully, and do not believe what people may say to bring you down. Be courageous in thought, prayer, action. Do not be afraid to pray in public places (before meals, etc.), because even if others judge you, God is the final judge. Love others no matter what challenges you must face. As my brother said, “Let go, and let God.”

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
My ultimate goal is to help others enter the gates of heaven, and to do that involves multiple things. I hope to be doing something with my faith in my professional career. I hope to make a huge impact on others, guiding them to believe through example that being a Catholic is not only the best thing to do for one’s soul, it also brings joy that is not obtained through worldly pleasures. Even though I am only 18, I can truly say that my faith has brought me more peace and happiness than all of the worldly experiences combined.


MendozaVictor Mendoza

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Minneapolis

Victor Mendoza attends the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. His parents are Jose and Radhika Mendoza. He plans to attend Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
The greatest lesson that I have learned in high school is to always keep going. That no matter how hard a task is, the only way to finish is through hard work and dedication.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am very proud of graduating and getting accepted to a great college. It shows that my hard work is finally paying off.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?  
“Tattoos on the Heart” was a book that showed me that there is good in everybody no matter what they look like. Everybody deserves a chance at a good life because once they are given that chance they will keep making good choices.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be?
Martin Luther King Jr. because he was a faith-filled man who had a powerful understanding of right and wrong. His way of showing that everybody should be equal is what Jesus wanted to show all of us.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
I want to open a business for kids who have nowhere to go. Also, I would like to be able to expand my business throughout the nation so that I can help everybody who needs it. Lastly, I would like to graduate college to make my parents proud.


warnemundeEric Warnemunde

New Prague High School

Eric Warnemunde attends St. Wenceslaus in New Prague. His parents are Tim and Patty Warnemunde. He plans to attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
In high school, I learned everyone is different. I found out that some individuals struggle with certain aspects of school, and that each situation is unique. I learned to try to help students in need to the best of my ability.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am glad I joined an anti-bullying group in my school. I then became vice president of the club and helped to try to stop bullying in my school.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
My spiritual role models are my youth faith group leaders, Tom and Rose Scaramuzza. They got me to think about faith in different terms and to care for the community.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be?
I would like to have a conversation with St. Thomas Aquinas because he had incredible insight into faith. Throwing aside the language barrier, I would hope to better understand what faith is.

What is your favorite prayer?
My favorite prayer is the Hail Mary because it allows me to admit I am a sinner and beg for forgiveness. It is also the prayer I pray the most frequently.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
The number one goal I hope to accomplish is salvation. For my second goal, I hope to become a better person. For my third goal, I would like to earn a doctorate-level degree.

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Category: Featured, Graduation